Active Traveller

Family - Five other great coastal spots for kids

We offer the best in family holidays, perfect for kids looking for adventure.

Traditional Fun Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

British holidays don’t get much more traditional than Great Yarmouth. The coastal gateway to the Norfolk Broads has been doing its holiday thing since 1760, and its golden mile of North Sea beaches and two piers continue to be a major draw for families. Attractions include the Sea Life Centre, with everything from starfish and tropical sharks to African dwarf crocodiles. There are also the life-size Victorian streets and fairground carousel of Yesterday’s World and the Merrivale Model Village, with four new developments including a stadium and the Lion and Unicorn pub.

For traditionalists, donkey rides are available on the expansive beach, but
if the kids find that a little tame for their tastes, they can check out the snow leopard, tigers and otters – among others – at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens.,

Thrills Galore Lusty Glaze, North Cornwall

It sounds like a raunchy pantomime dame but Lusty Glaze is a wicked combination of private sandy beach and family-friendly adventure in Newquay. Washed by clear Atlantic waves and sheltered by North Cornish cliffs, it offers instructor-run, safety-assessed excitement, including junior lifeguard courses for eight to 14-year-olds, teaching them how to spot and avoid danger. It also boasts a simulated rescue using oodles of kit, and Minnows (5-8), where a lifeguard takes the little ones to explore rocks pools and the tide line. There’s also junior surfing tuition (8-13) and classes in bodyboarding. Away from the water, Lusty Glaze’s answer to bungee jumping is a 230m long, 37m high zip wire, one of the longest, highest and fastest in Europe. There’s also Snakes and Ladders, Lusty Glaxe style – a timed scramble up a 37m cliff face, with obstacles (minimum age 8).

Historical Drama Dover Castle, Kent

History doesn’t get much more fun, wideranging and brilliantly theatrical than at Dover Castle. There were fortified earthworks here well before the Romans invaded in 43AD – they kindly left a lighthouse – and it later became a medieval stronghold, strengthened by tunnels that became an HQ during the Second World War. Now your family can see two millennia of history, from the underground warren of passages (where there’s a dazzling recreation of the Dunkirk evacuation complete with footage of swooping Spitfires) to a vivid depiction of life in Henry II’s court. There are also some cracking special events, from the March 29 Children’s Festival with junior jousting and knights’ training to medieval crafts and cookery on April 20 when St George will slay the dragon. The Second World War day on May 25 features an explosive battle, replica Spitfire and military encampment.

Wild West Isle of Arran, West Scotland

While you savour the mountain landscape and sample the delights of Arran’s Lochranza-blended Scotch or Robert Burns single malt, the Isle offers a tasty bag of treats for little ones. There are miles of beaches, for a start. Hit Whiting Bay for rock pooling and beach combing, Kildonan for seal spotting and the expanses of Blackwaterfoot or Sannox for locally run horse treks. For more vertical water thrills, try one of the waterfall walks. Easamor isn’t too challenging and you can take a pushchair – the kids can carry an old book, which they swap for one of their choice in the small library hut at the top. Alternatively, take a boat to Holy Isle with its collection of prime picnic spots on the shore, explore Brodick Castle and its adventure playground, or the ruins of Lochranza, to spot wild deer. Finally, for higher octane thrills, visit Arran Adventure for mountain biking, kayaking and gorge scrambling.,

Budding Attenboroughs Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Pack your bucket, spade – and binoculars. National Trust-owned Portstewart Strand, one of Northern Ireland’s finest Atlantic beaches, boasts three kilometres of dune-backed sand and sports a Blue Flag for cleanliness and water quality. It also provides fantastic views over Donegal, along with great sandcastle building potential. But there’s more to it than that. It’s a perfect spot for your family to access their inner David Attenborough. There’s a nature trail where they’ll encounter butterflies, moths and wild flowers, while Barmouth bird hide lets them ‘twitch’ to their hearts’ content, spotting waders, wildfowl and migrating species from as far away as Iceland and Siberia. Your sharp-eyed nippers might even turn out to be budding archaeologists and discover some of the Neolithic and early Iron Age arrowheads and pottery buried in Portstewart’s sand hills.

This article was published on 1st April 2013 so certain details may not be up to date.

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